Bond was denied for a Texas man who has been charged with beating his young wife to death and staging the incident to look like a car accident in a cold case murder that occurred more than 40 years ago, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Attorney Donnie Rudd, 73, is charged with the First Degree Murder of Noreen Rudd, who was 19 years old at the time of her death in 1973. Rudd was arrested in Sugarland, Texas last week following a joint investigation by the Cold Case Unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Arlington Heights Police Department.
According to prosecutors, Rudd and the victim met in 1973 when they were co-workers at the Quaker Oats Company in Barrington, where Rudd worked as a patent attorney. At the time of their meeting, Rudd shared a home with his live-in girlfriend and the victim had recently lost a boyfriend in an auto accident. In spite of their romantic situations, Rudd and the victim quickly began dating and married a short time later.
On Sept. 14, 1973, just 27 days after the couple was married, Barrington police officers responded to a call of an accident in a rural area at Route 63 and Bateman Rd. Upon arriving on the scene, authorities observed the Rudd’s 1972 Pinto Wagon in a grassy area southwest of the intersection. Rudd was seated in the front passenger seat of the vehicle with the victim’s head on his lap and feet lying across on the driver’s side.
Officers at the scene removed the victim from the car and attempted to revive her. During their resuscitation efforts, officers noticed a large hole in the victim’s head. The victim was transported to Sherman Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
According to police reports, the Rudd’s car struck a barbed wire fence, causing minor damage to the vehicle. Officers noted approximately 165 feet of skid marks in the grass leading from the road. The skid marks were consistent with the car having driven in a straight line to its final resting point.
While being interviewed at the scene, Rudd explained to authorities that he and the victim were on their way home when another vehicle came into his lane. Rudd said that he was forced to drive off the road and the victim’s door came open, causing her ejection. Rudd also showed officers a large rock that appeared to have hair and blood on it, and stated that the victim must have struck her head on it when she was thrown from the
vehicle. After the incident, Rudd claimed that he had been forced off the road by a hit man sent to kill him by a local politician and that the victim had struck her head on the door as she fell out of the car.
An autopsy was not performed on Noreen Rudd and a coroner’s inquest concluded that the victim’s death was an accident.
Immediately following his wife’s death, Rudd returned to his former girlfriend and married her eight months later. According to prosecutors, Rudd received two payouts on two life insurance policies that were taken out on the victim. The first was a policy that all Quaker Oats employees received, which amounted to $20,000. The second was a “Voluntary Accident Insurance” policy offered as extra insurance to employees, which had been taken out at the maximum amount of $100,000.
The case remained closed until 2012, when Rudd was again questioned about the 1973 incident. Arlington Heights detectives interviewed Rudd because he was a suspect in the unsolved 1991 murder of Arlington Heights resident Lauretta Tabek-Bodke, who was found shot to death in her kitchen. During questioning, Rudd initially claimed that the victim died inside the vehicle then said he did not remember whether or not she left the car.
The victim’s body was exhumed and an autopsy was conducted by the Kane County Coroner’s Office. Authorities observed lacerations on both sides of the victim’s head as well as a complex branching fracture on the left side of the skull. This led Doctor’s to change the cause of death to injuries caused by blunt force trauma, and the death was ruled a homicide.
Additionally, authorities from Missouri as well as Cook County’s Chief Medical examiner reviewed autopsy reports and photographs and concluded that the victim’s injuries were inconsistent with hitting a rock on the ground, and were the result of blunt force impacts during an assault.
A bond hearing was held at the Cook County Courthouse in Rolling Meadows where Judge Joseph Cataldo ordered that Rudd be held without bail. His court date is today December 24th.